It seems like every Saturday this fall marks another “must win” game for Virginia Tech football.
As this team fights to keep its 19-year bowl streak going, and maybe even notch an ACC Championship Game berth, Thursday night’s matchup in Miami will be no different.
But it will be no easy task. The Hurricanes — despite also coming into this game at 4-4 on the season — have more than enough talent, weapons and experience to give the Hokies a run for their money.
Here’s why I’m afraid of Miami:
The junior signal-caller has had a solid year up to this point, completing 57.6 percent of his passes for 2,214 yards and 10 touchdowns. Morris started against the Hokies in 2010 as a freshman and was picked off three times, but he’s come a long way since then. However, he has struggled recently, having thrown just one touchdown during the month of October. If Tech’s defense plays the same way against Morris it did against Tajh Boyd and Clemson, it’ll be just fine.
DUKE JOHNSON/MIKE JAMES
This is where the Hurricanes really love to hurt you: the ground game. Johnson and James have combined to run for 882 yards and 10 touchdowns through eight games. Johnson is a more shifty back, while James is more of a bruiser. Tech ranks 71st in the nation in rushing defense, having given up over 167 yards per game. In order for the Hokies to win tonight, they’re going to have be able to stuff the run, which is something they haven’t really been able to do as of late.
PHILLIP DORSETT/RASHAWN SCOTT
Morris’ two favorite targets are very dangerous and can make you pay in man coverage — something Tech played a lot of during the Clemson game. The sophomore duo has caught 66 passes for 980 yards and six touchdowns. With the exception of a couple big plays here and there, Tech defended the pass well during the month of October. I know I sound like a broken record, but they’ll have to continue that to have success on Thursday night.
Don’t think for a second that the Hurricanes have forgotten about that 19-yard Logan Thomas touchdown run on 4th-and-1 last year. Miami actually hasn’t had much success at all against the Hokies since joining the conference (we’ll get more into that in a bit). Al Golden should have no trouble motivating his team for this matchup, which could play in the Canes’ favor.
With the way this season has gone for Frank Beamer’s bunch, there’s just no telling what could happen tonight. With that in mind, here’s why I’m not afraid of the Hurricanes:
If you thought Tech being 71st in the nation in run defense was bad, then this number might make you feel a little better going into tonight’s game. No, that’s not a typo; Miami is ranked 123rd in the country (out of 124 FBS teams) in run defense, having given up almost 250 yards per game on the ground. There is absolutely no excuse for the Hokies to not have success running the football tonight, which, as we’ve seen so far this year, will benefit them greatly.
COMPETITION AT WIDE RECEIVER
Corey Fuller and Demitri Knowles were bumped up to “Co-No. 1s” on the depth chart this week alongside seniors Marcus Davis and Dyrell Roberts. While Thomas hasn’t had an exceptional year throwing the ball, inconsistency among his receivers hasn’t helped. The fact the coaching staff is mixing things up will put pressure on Davis and Roberts, who will either respond with good performances, or falter and give Fuller and Knowles their chance to shine.